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Notary FAQ #325



Download Notary Public Handbook 2019 (pdf) 
from CA. Sec. of State, Notary Section

[for "Become a Notary in One Day" class]

Click on a question to access the answer.


  • Introduction & Exam Information
  • California Notary Laws & Procedures
  • Step-by-Step Notarizations
  • Marketing Yourself as a Notary
  • In-class Practice Exam

This includes the following topics:

  • California Notary Laws & Procedures
  • Step-by-step notarizations
  • Identifying document signers
  • How to complete the Notary journal and certificates
  • Handling special and challenging documents and signers
  • How to avoid lawsuits
  • How to pass the exam (Practice exam provided)
  • Learn how to market yourself as a Notary, set fees and maximize your earning potential!


  1. Materials Fee: $30.00 for Notary Public Sourcebook. (cash, check or moneyOrder payable to "Notary Public Seminars"
  2. One of the following Photo Identification: (current or issued within the last 5 years)
    • A driver's license or State DMV I.D. card
    • A Canadian or Mexican Driver's license
    • U.S. Passport or Passport issued by a foreign government
    • A U.S. Military I.D. Card
    No other forms of photo identification are allowed.
  3. A completed application form - Get Application
  4. All Applications for appointment must include a 2" x 2" color passport-type photograph of yourself attached to the application
  5. A check, money order, or cashier's check for $40.00 made payable to The Secretary of State. The candidate's name must be preprinted on the check; temporary checks are not accepted. Cash is not accepted.
  6. Two (2) sharpened No. 2 lead pencils
  7. [optional] Yellow Highlighter for marking special areas to remember in the Study Manual

Check-in: 8:00 am – 8:30 am

Seminar:  8:30 am – 4:00 pm

This includes one lunch break of 40 minutes and two 10 minute breaks. (Students are encouraged to bring a bag lunch)



Class Fee: $99.00

Materials Fee: $30.00 for Notary Public Sourcebook. (cash, check or moneyOrder payable to "Notary Public Seminars"

State Exam: $40.00 – Check payable to Secretary of State. The candidate's name must be preprinted on the check; temporary checks are not accepted. Cash is not accepted.

The state exam will be administered after the six hour seminar for those who wish to take it.

The CA Notary Exam/Application fees are set fees by the State of California. Notary supplies and live scan fingerprints vary by supplier. The County Recorder filing fees will vary depending on the county. The costs are as follows:

  • Become a Notary in One Day - $99.00 + $30 materials fee (paid to instructor)
  • Passport Color Photograph - 2" x 2" passport-type photograph of yourself, $10.00 to $15.00
  • Application/Exam Fee - $40.00 for first time applicants and renewing notaries ($20.00 application fee and $20.00 State of California Exam fee).
  • Notary Seal and $15,000 state required notary bond - $14.00 to $18.00 notary seal and $38.00 for the notary bond (these fees may vary).
  • Filing Fee - $40 to $120 County Recorder fee for filing your $15,000 bond.
  • Fingerprint Fees - $32.00 to the Dept. of Justice, and $17.00 to the Federal Bureau of Investigation plus $31.00 "Live Scan Fee".
  • Notary Supplies - Anywhere from $75.00 and up depending upon what supplies you purchase.
  • Requests for withdrawal from a class must be submitted in writing via email at least seven business days before the start date of the class; receipt of requests made via other methods, such as phone messages, will not be accepted.
  • You may receive a credit voucher applicable to future Community Education classes, which is valid for two years from the date of issue.
  • A minimum service charge of $10 per class cancellation will be withheld.
  • Refunds are granted ONLY if a class is cancelled, discontinued, or rescheduled. In the instance of cancelled classes, the course fee is automatically refunded.
  • Credit card refunds are processed within seven business days.


To become a notary public you must meet all of the following requirements (Government Code section 8201):

  • Be a legal resident of the State of California;
  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Satisfactorily complete a course of study approved by the Secretary of State;
  • Pass a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State; and
  • Pass a background check

All persons are required to take and satisfactorily complete a six-hour course of study approved by the Secretary of State prior to appointment as a notary public. Please note that all persons being appointed, no matter how many commission terms held in the past, are required to take the initial six-hour course of study. (Government Code section 8201(a)(3) and (b)) A notary public who holds a current California notary public commission and who has completed an approved six-hour course at least one time is required to take and satisfactorily complete an approved three-hour refresher course prior to reappointment as a notary public.


No. The official notary public exam is NOT offered online by the State of California. You must register with a testing service and attend an official test site to take the exam.

The fee for the official exam is $40 for new applicants and re-appointments and $20 if you have previously taken the exam and failed.

You can take the exam as many times as you need in order to pass, but you may only take the exam one time per calendar month. Only the first time is included with the course fee. Any attempts to take the exam beyond the first time will cost an additional fee ($20 each time). The instructor will provide the information needed to apply to retake the exam.

The exam consists of 45 multiple-choice questions. The exam time allowed is 60 minutes.


Process Summary

If you have chosen to take the notary exam at the end of class, it will take approximately 10 weeks to receive your new commission starting from the exam date. Your exam results are sent out within 15-20 business days of your exam date.

After you receive your pass notification, you must submit your fingerprints for a background check. The Secretary of State's office receives your background check, processes your application and then mails your commission to you within approximately 10 weeks.

Step-by-Step Process

If you have taken the state exam at the end of our class, you will receive written notification from Cooperative Personnel Services 15 business days from the time you took the Notary exam whether you passed or not.

  • If you added your email to the State application, your results will be sent via email. Be sure to check your spam/junk folder. If an email address was omitted, results will be sent through mail. Contact CPS at (916) 263-3520 option 5. If you did not pass the Notary exam, do not feel discouraged! Contact your instructor.

After you get your test results, you will need to have your Live Scan fingerprints taken. Please print this Live Scan form and take it with you to your chosen Live Scan vendor.

  • Results can take up to 2-4 weeks, You are not required to mail anything into the Secretary of State's office. Fingerprints are transmitted electronically.

If you haven't done so already, purchase the supplies and tools you will need to properly execute notarizations.

Check out our I Received My Commission! Now What? page for detailed information on obtaining your state required Bond and Seal.

File your oath of office and notary bond at your local County Clerk's Office. Visit our Bond and Oath Filing Instructions page for more information.

8) Start notarizing!


Notaries public who have previously completed an approved six-hour notary public education course and have a current active commission are eligible to take an approved three-hour refresher course. If your commission has lapsed you must take a 6-hour approved course before taking the exam. PLEASE NOTE: You will be required to pass the State exam and to submit ‘Live Scan' fingerprints (details will be provided at the seminar). If you wish, you can register and take the State exam immediately after completing the seminar.

A six-hour approved notary public education course satisfies the requirement for a three-hour refresher course and always satisfies the education requirement, regardless if you are a new applicant or applying for reappointment.

To avoid a break in notary public commission terms, the Secretary of State recommends that you complete your state required training and exam at least six months before your commission expiration. Test results are valid for one year from the date of the examination. (California Code of Regulations, Title 2, section 20803.)